Nome man sentenced to 60 years on attempted murder charges
Frank R. Johnson, 39, has been sentenced to 60 years flat time after he pleaded guilty to the attempted murder of a Nome police officer.
Officer Casey Johnson, no relations to the defendant, answered a domestic violence call in the 500 block of East Third Avenue around 11 p.m. on July 11, 2017, and came out of the residence with a knife wound to his left side. Officer Johnson went to the hospital where he was treated and released.
Frank Johnson faced three felony charges in the case—Attempted Murder First Degree, an Unclassified Felony; Assault First Degree, serious injury with a weapon, a Class A Felony; Assault 3, cause fear of injury with weapon, a Class C Felony and Resist/Interfere with arrest by force, a Class A Misdemeanor.
A year later, at a felony hearing on July 20, Johnson pleaded guilty in a plea agreement to Count 1, Attempted Murder with an open sentence cap of 60 years to serve. The other counts were dismissed.
At sentencing Dec. 10, District Attorney John Earthman asked for a sentence of the full 60 years.
Pushing his 40s and just five weeks out of parole of a sentence on manslaughter in the starvation death of his daughter, Johnson “had felt justified in the attempted killing of another human being,” Earthman said. Johnson struck the officer where he wanted to strike him, under his arm, a premeditated attempt to kill and officer on his duties. “He felt justified in killing Officer Johnson with enough force to bend the knife significantly,” Earthman added.
In his statement prior to hearing the sentence handed down by Judge Romano DiBenedetto, Johnson told the court he was deeply sorry. He asked for a chance to show the community he could change. He would perform volunteer work and make restitution for his actions, Johnson said. He was willing to relocate for treatment at the court’s direction.
Johnson’s defense attorney, Robert J. Campbell, told the court Frank Johnson had made progress in becoming a better person—learning anger management and stress reduction. There had been no premeditation in a crime committed while highly intoxicated, Campbell said.
“Mr. Johnson faces a tremendous amount of time. He forgoes a trial because he wants to take responsibility,” Campbell said. “He could have put the court through a trial and could have achieved ‘not guilty’ on attempted murder. Mr. Johnson asks for the court’s leniency to have hope for rehabilitation. Mr. Johnson just asks for hope, your honor.”
He had to observe certain sentencing criteria codified in law, DiBenedetto said. On deterrence — “I don’t think the Nome community needs me to tell them that to attack a police officer is wrong,” he said.
Johnson’s history showed that he repeatedly is not abiding by parole conditions, DiBenedetto said. Before this immediate part of his life, Johnson had shown no effort to advance, the judge said.
“The sentence does need to address Mr. Johnson’s need to be confined,” DiBenedetto observed. When police are called, they have to respond, per their oath to the community. Police are the ones charged with the responsibility to protect the community.
He had guarded expectations for Johnson’s rehabilitation, the judge continued. “In his 40-year span of life, his conduct had led to the gruesome death of an infant,” the judge said. DiBenedetto cited a recording of a call Johnson made to his significant other after his arrest, which was filled with rage and anger.
DiBenedetto handed down the sentence of 60 years flat time, which precludes any mandatory parole.
On July 11, 2017, a moment after NPD received a call from neighbors reporting a loud ruckus, Officer Casey Johnson pulled up at the address and entered the apartment. Johnson observed the suspect, Frank R. Johnson, standing at an east-facing window with his hands obscured with a curtain, according to an affidavit filed in court. Thinking that Johnson was trying to flee through the window, Officer Johnson contacted Johnson and directed him to place his hands behind him.
“Upon contact, the defendant turned, wielding a kitchen knife and stabbed Officer Johnson in the left side, just under his armpit, causing a laceration,” the court document said. “Later observations revealed that the defendant struck Officer Johnson with enough force to penetrate the officer’s uniform top, undershirt and bend the knife’s blade from its handle,” the affidavit signed by NPD Sgt. Preston Stotts continued.
Johnson resisted arrest. Officer Johnson tried to restrain Johnson and called for emergency reinforcement. Officer Johnson took the suspect to the ground. Johnson refused to drop the knife. However, Officer Johnson was able to control Johnson’s hand that held the knife, fearing further injury from the knife, according to investigation by Sgt. Stotts and Officer Johnson.
Stotts arrived and assisted Johnson in forcefully restraining Frank R. Johnson and putting handcuffs on him, according to court records.
Johnson has remained in custody at Anvil Mountain Correctional Center since his arrest.